- Riker Hill Elementary School
- The Home-School Connection
What Can I Do At Home?Posted by Kimberly Colon on 11/2/2021
This question is a hot topic, especially this week at Parent/Teacher Conferences. My answer is usually simple, "Read." Read TO your child. Read WITH your child. LISTEN to your child read to you!
But, I know, there are the follow up questions.
What if they get stuck on a word?
Can I say "sound it out?"
I don't know how to help them.
How can I support what you're teaching in school?
What do I do with the books that come home?
First, I don't want reading to be a chore at home.
I LOVE reading (it's probably a reason why I love teaching it).
*I read for pleasure myself. *I am in a book club.
*I log all the books I read throughout the year and *set reading challenges for myself (only 2 more books to go to reach my goal of 60 books for this year!).
I want my students to love reading as much as I do! For this reason, I tell my students that I don't give homework, I give them a Reading Log. Reading is not homework. It is something that we should all do, habitually, every day, even if it's just for 15-20 minutes a day. I read every day before bedtime, even if it's just a couple pages or a chapter.
I know, I know, I am not answering your question. I want you, Moms, Dads and other Caregivers, to understand my philosophy of reading at home before I share this phenomenal resource.
If your child is getting frustrated and upset while reading,
They are not going to gain any knowledge if they are upset, frustrated, or any other extreme emotion.
Alright, now onto the topic at hand. The link below will bring you to a slew of short concise videos that will help you address various topics to help your child at home. Please ask your child's teacher, or message me, about on which topic to focus. Your child will not need it all, but could benefit from one or two. I hope you find it helpful!
Practicing WordsPosted by Kimberly Colon on 12/7/2018
One strategy we reading teachers use for preparing students for reading success is word recognition. As proficient adult readers, we can look at nearly any word and just know it. We don't have to sound it out. We don't have to break the word up into parts to figure it out. We just know it. We know how to write the words and we know how to read the words. This is the goal for our children. There are several ways to practice these words using the multi-sensory approach. This will activate various parts of the brain to help put the word into their long-term memory.
These are the words that are difficult to "sound out." As we know, in the English language, it is difficult to decode many words. We just have to memorize them.
Here are some activities you can do at home to practice these words. Children are considered proficient at these words when they can READ them, SPELL them, and WRITE them with no assistance.
1. Pattycake: Watch me as I demonstrate practicing the word "want." Click Here
2. Arm Tapping: Watch here to see how to arm tap for both lefthanded and righthanded learners.
3. Write in Sand (or shaving cream, or anything!)
4. Make the word with Play-Doh or clay.
5. Write the word using rainbow colors. Using colors helps activate a part of the brain that will help the children remember the word.
The Benefits of Reading a Book Again . . . and Again . . . and AGAINPosted by Kimberly Colon on 5/24/2018
What is the point of reading a book again? You've already read it. You know what happens. You know how it ends. You know all the words. There's no point in rereading a book. Rereading is BORING.
I hear this a lot from both children and adults, but I am here to tell you that a LOT can be gained from rereading a book . . . and rereading it again! Here are some reasons why I have children reread books.
- Increased word recognition & vocabulary - Isn't it frustrating when your child reads a word perfectly on page 4, but when they see the exact same word on page 8, they can't read it or say the wrong word? Rereading the book will help them recognize more words as they see them repeatedly from page to page and from book to book. Go back and reread a sentence. Say, "Hey, there's that same word! What did you say on this page?" Make those connections and the more they reread, the more they will recognize those words as they see them again in that book and in other books. Repeated readings will also help their oral vocabulary. Vocabulary is learned through repetition. The more they use the word, the more it will stick in their heads for future use.
- Improve fluency - We tell students that "fluency" means how a reader can read and sound the way they talk. Technically, fluency refers to their reading rate, phrasing, and expression. As students move up into second grade and higher, we will be putting more emphasis on oral reading fluency. In kindergarten and first grade, we put the emphasis on reading the words first. Children are still trying to apply reading and decoding strategies to figure out words they don't know. They are choppy and robotic when they read and that is OKAY! Their brains are using all their energy on figuring out how to read the words. Their brains are NOT thinking about how fast they are reading or how to make it sound fluent. And this is OKAY. After they read the book the first time, let's reread it again and again. When they know all the words in the book, they can practice reading fluently.
- Preparation for future grades - Starting in second and third grade, the children will be engaged in an activity called "close reading" across all the subject areas. Close reading is the act of repeated readings through a specific lens or focus. For example, a third grader may read an article about Flag Day. First, they will read the article just to get the gist. Second, they may reread the article to focus on certain vocabulary words that are new to them and use context clues to determine meaning. Third, they may reread the article to highlight text evidence that supports an idea. The act of rereading a text is a skill for success in later years.
- A major boost in confidence - Learning to read is very difficult. They will stumble over words. They will get frustrated. They won't want to read. Then they pick up that book again, sometimes begrudgingly. This time, though, it's a little easier to read. The words are easier (thanks to increased word recognition). Their fluency is better. Then you hear, "Hey, I can read this!" "This book is easy now!" "I'm a good reader." I hear this all the time from nearly all of my students. Rereading books makes them feel better about themselves.
- THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF READING - What is the point of reading? To gain meaning, of course! Meaning of a story, gaining new information, learning something. Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading. I mentioned earlier that when a child is learning to read, their brains are focused on the decoding part of reading. There is no room in their brains to focus on what the story is actually telling them. They aren't making any meaning. Reading the book again, after they have figured out the words, will open up "space" in their brains to now make meaning of those words and sentences.
Does your child have a favorite book that they love to read over and over again? When I was little, before I learned to read, I loved my Disney Cinderella book. My parents had to read that book over and over again. I am sure they were sick of that book. But, this act of rereading is one of the ways my parents instilled my love of reading. Let's all work together to get the children loving reading!
Take-Home BooksPosted by Kimberly Formus on 10/14/2016
Every day your child will bring home a baggie with one or two books to practice reading at home. Sometimes it will be an easy read, and sometimes it will be a little more difficult.
On easy days, please practice fluency and expression. Make sure to pause and take mini-breaths at periods, read "like an actor" when a character is speaking, and phrasing words together so it sounds more natural.
On the more difficult days, focus on word decoding. Ask questions like "Does that look right?" and "Does that make sense?" Try not to correct them right away if they make a mistake. Wait until the end of the sentence or the page to see if they can self correct and find the mistake themselves.
As always, you can check back here for more tips! Thank you for your support at home!
Stages of Spelling DevelopmentPosted by Kimberly Formus on 11/30/2015
There is a lot of research and names behind teaching spelling. I get a lot of questions from parents asking how they can help their child with spelling at home. It is important to know that you cannot expect your child to spell every single word correctly, nor can you expect your child to spell correctly just by "sounding it out." If they are young and learning to write, we cannot expect them to spell a multisyllabic word or even use long vowel sounds correctly.
But we can do some simple things to help them hear and spell with the knowledge they DO have.
In this video, you will see a very brief description of the stages of spelling development. Where does your child fall? That is the first step teachers do in assessing where their students are and where they need to go next in spelling instruction.
The Power of RereadingPosted by Kimberly Formus on 10/30/2015
Sometimes I will hear a student say, "But I already read this book," when they are asked to bring it home to reread. There are several massive benefits to rereading a book. I wanted to explain those benefits, but while I was doing some research, I stumbled upon a fellow blogger who also addressed this question. I could not have said it better myself. I quote a part of his article below, but if you would like to read the rest of it, please visit his blog by clicking here.
What if you knew of a single instructional strategy that research has shown improves decoding, fluency and reading comprehension? Would you use it? Of course, you say. And yet one of the most under used literacy strategies is such a well documented strategy: the strategy of rereading.
The research is clear on the benefits of rereading. What do we know about rereading as an instructional strategy?
- Rereading helps students develop a deeper understanding of what they have read (Roskos and Newman, The Reading Teacher, April 2014).
- Rereading helps students read with greater fluency, allowing them to give more attention to making sense of what they have read (Pikulski and Chard, The Reading Teacher, March 2005).
Researchers further agree that repeated readings should focus on short chunks of text and that the focus of the instruction should be on both fluency and comprehension (Rasinski, The Reading Teacher, May 2012). A further benefit of rereading is that the fluency that children build by rereading one passage seems to transfer to new readings later on. In other words, rereading leads to better first readings of text.With so much research to back it up, rereading should be a daily aspect of every classroom teacher's instruction. The Common Core State Standards' call for repeated reading in a "close reading" design is welcome if it encourages the use of repeated readings in all classrooms, but close reading is only one place where repeated readings can and should be used. Here are several instructional domains where repeated reading can be used to good effect.
- Rereading helps students develop greater accuracy in reading. When students reread, words that they may have struggled to decode on a first reading become increasingly easier to parse (Samuels, The Reading Teacher, January, 1979).
Staying Connected using ClassDojoPosted by Kimberly Formus on 10/6/2015
For the past five years as a teacher, I have used Class Dojo as a classroom management tool. This technology is fun for the students and keeps them engaged, motivated, and focused. It's a positive way to correct unwanted behaviors by rewarding the good behaviors. Students receive points for participating, staying on task, and doing their homework. This year, I wanted to take this a step farther by including the parents. I sent home your parent codes with your child in their book baggies. Thank you to those who have already signed up. The students enjoy seeing their monster avatars and hearing how many points they have at the end of each lesson. When they get to 15 points, they get a prize!
Click here to see what two parents have to say about using Class Dojo.
Please let me know if you would like to sign up. I can email you the invitation!
"This book is too easy!"Posted by Kimberly Formus on 9/25/2015
In literacy intervention, students read a new book every day. On Odd days, they read a book on their level and, on even days, they read an easier book. The purpose of the easier book is to extend a certain concept, the language structure, and/or the vocabulary of previous books. It is meant to be read quickly. It will help build automaticity, or rapid naming, of the sight words, which in turn will help in the reading of their on-level books.
I understand this can be frustrating when reading at home because they are reading them so quickly. Here are a few strategies to use with those easier books that will add to the value of reading!
1. Encourage reading with expression. Be sure they are pausing at periods, raising their voices with questions and exclamations.
2. Game: Pick a word on each page that they have to find quickly.
3. Discuss the book. What did they learn? Make a connection to another book or something else they’ve seen. What was their favorite part?Happy Reading!
Story TimePosted by Kimberly Formus on 9/25/2015
Studies show that reading regularly at home makes a successful child. Reading is fun, adventurous, humorous, heart wrenching, and mysterious. Diving into a good book can do wonders for a child of any age, from 1 to 100! It helps them discover themselves, to mature, to learn about the world around them, and to deal with issues they may have. Reading and writing can be an escape from the real world for anyone.
Read every day. Read to each other. Children should be reading every day with or without you. Make it family time to read together regularly. Studies show that when children are read to their comprehension and vocabulary increases. You can make it a bedtime ritual to read together right before bed. Take turns reading, have an older child read to a younger child, or have the younger child read to the older child! Hey, let's read to the family pet too!
Praise your children when they conquer a sentence or a chapter. This should be a fun, bonding time and something they look forward to every evening.
For the next two weeks, try to make Story Time a regular in your house. If you have older children they can read in their bed for 15 minutes before bedtime. If you have younger children you can read together.